Focused Inbox

A few months ago Microsoft implemented the Focused Inbox in the Office 365 Email, or Outlook on the Web.  Microsoft's secret algorithms decide which emails are the most important to you and directs them to the Focused Inbox.  The rest are directed to the "Other" portion of your Inbox.  Personally, I like the Focused Inbox.  It is doing a pretty good job of deciding what emails I actually read and displaying them in the Focused section.  I have had a few co-workers ask me how to turn this feature off.  They prefer to have a single Inbox, mostly because it means they don't have to switch back-and-forth between the two Inboxes.  You can also turn off this feature by following the instructions below.

  1. Click the Settings gear at the upper-right
  2. Click Mail beneath the "Your app settings" heading
  3. In the Layout section, click Focused Inbox
  4. Select Don't sort messages
  5. Click Save
Inbox Before


Inbox After

It's also a good idea to train your Focused Inbox if you do keep it.  If you see mail going to the wrong Inbox, right-click the email and select (Always) move to Focused Inbox or (Always) move to Other Inbox.

O365 inbox rules

Recently we made some changes which resulted in my receiving dozens of emails every day about the status of daily scheduled tasks. It's great to be able to see the results contained in these messages if something goes wrong, but most of the time I don't need to look at them and wish they weren't cluttering up my inbox.

The solution?  Office 365 inbox rules.
Inbox Rules
You can create inbox rules in O365 to automatically perform specific actions (move, copy, delete, pin, mark, forward, redirect, send...) on messages as they arrive, based on criteria you determine. In my case, I created inbox rules to automatically dump these automated task emails into a specific folders where I could reference them if I needed.

Create a rule from a messageThere are 2 ways to create inbox rules--

  • through the Settings>Mail>Inbox and sweep rules menu where you can build inbox rules from the ground up
  • by creating a rule directly from a message

You may have to do some minor tweaking to get the rules set up exactly as you'd like, but they can be well worth the time you'll save managing your many messages.

Undo Send for Outlook on the Web

Microsoft added an Undo Send feature to Outlook on the Web back in January.  Those of you who use the SCLS-supported Office 365 mail can enable the Undo Send feature for up to 30 seconds by following these simple steps.

  1. Log into your Office 365 mail.
  2. Click the Settings gear button at the upper-right.
  3. Click Mail at the bottom.
  4. Beneath the Automatic processing menu, click Undo send.
  5. Select Let me cancel messages I've sent for and select a time period from the dropdown.
  6. Click Save.
  7. Click the back arrow to go back to your mailboxes.
    Options Arrow

You have now turned on the Undo Send feature.  How do you actually use it?

  1. After you have sent your email, click the Drafts folder.  All mail that you send will hang out in the Drafts folder for the amount of time you specified earlier.
  2. In the Drafts folder, select the email you want to stop from sending.  It is probably the top message.
  3. In the upper-right of the email, you will see a progress bar.  Click Undo.
    Undo Progress bar
  4. At this point, you can either edit your message and Send it again, or simply get rid of it by clicking Discard.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Office 365 Contact Lists and Groups Explained

Within Office 365 there are two items found within the People section that I'd like to explain as they are a little confusing. The two items I'm talking about are "Contact lists" and "Groups".  The part that I've found confusing is knowing which one to use when you want to send an email out to a lot of people.  Both of these differ from a patron email list in the fact that an email from it shows that it came from the name of the patron email list and only the list administrators can send out emails to the list.  Whereas email from a "Contact list" or "Group" shows that it came from your personal email address and anyone can send out emails to the list by using Reply All.  So when you're emailing patrons it is best to use an email list.

So what is a "Contact list?"  
A "Contact list" (formerly called a distribution list) allows you to send an email message to all the email addresses in the list at once.  That way you don't need to enter every email address every time you need to send an email to the same group of people. The really important thing about a contact list is that it allows you to send emails to people that are not within your organization's Office 365.

So what is a "Group?"
A "Group" has the same features as a "Contact list" but the key difference is that it only allows you to send emails to people that are within your organization's Office 365.  The reason for this is that it was designed by Microsoft to be used for team collaboration within an organization.

I hope this clears up any confusion, but if not you can feel free to give me a call at the Help Desk.

Office 365 Email Clutter Feature Going Away

With my last Techbit in June, I was excited to talk about the Clutter feature in Office 365 Email.  I have just read an article announcing that the Clutter feature is being deprecated in favor of Emotion_focused-300px
the Focused Inbox.  Microsoft is discontinuing the feature because it interferes with users who have complex inbox filtering rules and business users are often seeking the help of their Email Admins to locate missing emails.  The Focused Inbox won't redirect email to a different folder like the Clutter feature.  Instead, it will offer a different view of your Inbox by showing you what Microsoft's algorithms believe are the emails most important to you.  The Focused Inbox could start appearing in your email as soon as September.

Office 365 Mail Clutter Feature

I had a few people ask me about the Clutter feature in Office 365 mail recently.  Clutter automatically filters out email that you normally ignore and stores it in the Clutter folder instead of the Inbox.  According to the Microsoft documentation, Clutter studies the following to learn your email reading behavior: 

  • The sender Messydesk-300px

  • Whether you participated in the conversation

  • If you’re the only recipient

  • Its importance

You can fine-tune the Clutter feature by right-clicking low-priority mail in your Inbox and selecting Move to Clutter.  You might notice mail in your Clutter folder that you would prefer to appear in your Inbox.  You can right-click this mail and select Move to Inbox.  Within my email, Office 365 has learned that I rarely read Announce emails dealing with Job Announcements and Giveaways.  Those emails automatically get moved to my Clutter folder.  On Sunday evenings I receive an email summarizing what the Clutter feature has been doing for me the past week.

To disable Clutter:

  1. Log into your Office 365 Email
  2. Click the Settings icon (the little gear at the upper-right)
  3. Click Mail at the bottom beneath My app settings
  4. Click Clutter at the left
  5. Uncheck Separate items identified as Clutter
  6. Click Save

Link preview in OWA

In Office 365's Outlook Web App, when you type an email and add a URL, OWA adds a preview that includes a link title, thumbnail, and description of the link. This is called Link Preview, and this feature is enabled by default.

Link Preview

I find myself almost always deleting this preview as soon as it's added, and realized I could probably save myself some unnecessary clicking by just turning the Link Preview feature off.

Turn off Link Preview

  1. On the Navigation bar, in the upper right corner, click Settings.
  2. In the Options pane, under Mail > Layout, click Link preview.
  3. Under Link preview, uncheck the Preview links in email box to turn it off.

If you later decide you made a mistake, just repeat the steps but check the box in step 3 instead.

Too Much Information!! ARSL Program Highlight

In my ARSL Highlights Know More post a couple of weeks ago, I promised to share some of the tips that Crystal Schimpf talked about in her workshop on Too Much Information!! Managing Digital Overload.

TimerOne productivity tip that Crystal mentioned that I also recommend is the Pomodoro technique*. It's a simple and effective tool that helps me focus. We all have those days when it seems like we have a zillion things to do in a short amount of time and don't know where to begin. When that happens, I set the timer on my phone for 20 or 25 minutes, pick one task from my to-do list, and focus on it. If a thought or idea distracts me, I write it down and go back to the task at hand.

Crystal also reminded me (and now I'm reminding you) that we need to learn our Tech Tools better. I'll use email as an example here but this applies to lots of other tools, too. Whether you use Office 365, Gmail, Outlook or some other email program, there are lots of features that you probably don't use. Here are a few things to investigate and implement to help manage your email. Setting up filters or rules can help manage your newsletter or listserv subscriptions. Using flags or color coding can indicate the priority of a message or inclusion in a project - you can set the rules for what flags or colors mean for you.

Here are a few websites that Crystal recommended - I haven't tried all of these out yet:

Let me know if you try any of these tools that Crystal recommends. I'm curious to hear about your experiences.

*I'm using it as I write this TechBits post!


Disable Outlook on the Web Notifications

If you're not a fan of sounds or notifications when a new email arrives to your Office 365, do this...

  1. Click the Gear. Gear

  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Message Options.
  4. Uncheck Play a sound when new items arrive.
  5. Uncheck Display a notification when a new email message arrives.
  6. Click Save.



Office 365 signatures

steps 1 & 2Need to update your O365 email signature? (maybe you still have a line about a new email address that isn't so new anymore...?)  Need to create a signature?

You'll find help with signatures in the Microsoft documentation about signatures.

Step 3